The Darfur Consortium

. . .

Darfur in the News

U.S. and European Media

January 3 , 2008

Associated Press: New Darfur Peacekeeping Force Takes Over. A joint African-United Nations force took over peacekeeping duties in Darfur on Monday, a long-awaited change that is intended to be the strongest effort yet to solve the world's worst humanitarian crisis. But many are already warning that its prospects are grim and that if it fails, it will only worsen the 4 1/2-year conflict, which has already killed more than 200,000 people and driven 2.5 million from their homes. The force - at 9,000 soldiers and policemen - is only a little larger than the beleaguered and ineffectual African Union peacekeeping mission it replaces. Even in the best-case scenario, it will take months to build up to its planned strength of 26,000. Western nations have not come through with equipment such as military helicopters and vehicles the U.N. says are vital for the new force to reach hotspots quickly and protect civilians. The Sudanese government, meanwhile, has thrown up numerous obstacles to the deployment. Monday's handover ceremony at the new mission's still unfinished headquarters outside El Fasher, capital of North Darfur state, was low key. The AU force's military commander, Gen. Martin Agwai, took off his green African Union beret and donned one with the blue U.N. colors, becoming the commander of the new force, known as UNAMID. "We are determined to deploy the most robust force possible," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement read by UNAMID's top chief Rodolphe Adada. "If we are to have a real impact on the situation on the ground within the first half of 2008, these deployments must happen far more swiftly than they have done so far." Attacks on international aid workers increased 150 percent over 2007, and violence has made large areas inaccessible to humanitarian relief, according to the U.N.

Washington Post: Bush Signs Bill to Pressure Sudan, Letting States and Localities Curtail Investments. President Bush signed a bill Monday allowing states, local governments and private investors to cut investment ties with Sudan as a way to pressure the Khartoum government into ending violence in the country's Darfur region. But Bush qualified his support by saying that the measure could allow state and local actions to interfere with national foreign policy. The president said he has instructed his administration to enforce the law in a manner that prevents that outcome. "The constitution vests the exclusive authority to conduct foreign relations with the federal government," Bush said in a statement accompanying the announcement. Human rights advocates urged Bush to implement all provisions of the bill, which passed unanimously in the House and Senate, to pressure Sudan to comply with international peacekeeping efforts. The legislation targets four economic sectors regarded as crucial sources of revenue for the Sudanese government: oil, power production, mining and military equipment. The law permits states and localities to divest from companies involved in those sectors. It also allows managers of mutual funds and private pension funds to cut ties with companies involved in those sectors and provides protection from lawsuits. Several lawmakers also applauded the president for signing the measure, although they expressed bafflement at his reservations. "It's genocide!" exclaimed Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), a longtime advocate of sanctions in Sudan. "This measure is intended to change Khartoum's behavior by putting pressure on the foreign companies lining the pockets of the ruling National Congress Party," said a joint statement released Monday by several Darfur activist groups, including the Save Darfur Coalition, the Genocide Intervention Network and STAND. "It presents a stark choice -- stop enabling genocide in Darfur or lose our business. The people of Darfur cannot afford an empty law on the books, which is why the president must vigorously enforce this critical legislation."

Associated Press: Police Probe US Envoy Slaying in Sudan. Authorities questioned witnesses Wednesday in the killing of a U.S. diplomat shot in a drive-by attack as he returned from a New Year's Eve party in the Sudanese capital. The U.S. sent its own investigators to the country. One woman said she rushed to help the badly wounded American, who pleaded, "I am dying, I need help," the independent Al-Rai Al-Amm newspaper reported. John Granville, 33, an official for the U.S. Agency for International Development, was being driven home at about 4 a.m. Tuesday when another vehicle cut off his car and opened fire before fleeing the scene, the Sudanese Interior Ministry said. The diplomat's driver, Abdel-Rahman Abbas, was also killed. Granville, who was hit by five bullets but initially survived, died after surgery, said Walter Braunohler, a public affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum. Sudanese officials insist the shooting was not a terrorist attack, but the U.S. Embassy said it was too soon to determine the motive. There has been no claim of responsibility, and U.S. and Sudanese officials investigating the shooting have not specified any suspects. The Sudanese government often drums up anti-Western sentiment in the media. But attacks on foreigners are rare in Khartoum, where a U.S. diplomat was last killed in 1973. Granville was working to implement a 2005 peace agreement between Sudan's north and south that ended more than two decades of civil war, USAID said.

The following transcript appeared in Wednesday's Los Angeles Times opinion section.

China, helicopters and genocide

Leaders of The Save Darfur Coalition met with The Times' editorial board last month to discuss the situation on the ground in Sudan — and what the world should (but isn't) doing about it. Here's a partial transcript of remarks by Amir Osman, the group's international outreach coordinator, and retired U.S. Ambassador Lawrence Rossin.

Current situation in Darfur

Amir Osman: Thanks for having us here. I will start talking about the situation briefly on the ground. I might go into the details that you are aware of.

In recent conversation with some colleagues who work on the ground in Darfur — they are from Darfur and work for local NGOs, humanitarian and human rights organizations — the message they are sending to us is that the activists on the ground are really frustrated ? because they lost trust in the international community. They have been living in the [internally displaced persons] camps, about 70 IDP camps all over Darfur in a difficult situation and they are hopeful that someone will come one day and rescue them . . .

Recently, most of the IDP camps that are in Darfur witnessed violence by the rebels and by the government. Some of the rebel movements went to the IDPs and tried to include some people. The government responded: We had an incident in July where the government literally went to ? one of the biggest IDP camps and tried to send people back to the villages and people were resisting going back. The security agents, the international security agents and the military detained about 76 IDPs — no one knows their whereabouts. Now, the U.N. is still investigating . . .

[The Sudanese government wants] people to go back to their villages in order to make the situation look better for the international community . . . The government is about to do a census for the coming elections and doing the census of the IDPs where they are living — the IDP camps — may not help the government policy . . .

Another aspect people are highlighting about the situation on the ground is the recent . . . inter-tribe fighting through the government bribing some of the chiefs of the tribes and giving lands of the Darfurian people to non-Sudanese people. There is an issue of bringing people from Chad, Niger and other neighboring countries and providing them in some cases citizenship, IDs and giving them the land in order to change the demography or Darfur for the same reasons — the coming elections — and because these tribes are allied with the government of Sudan . . .

Dealing with the Sudanese government

Lawrence Rossin: Amir has described the situation on the ground. I think the observation that will bother experts and analysts . . . is that compared to 2003, 2004, the rate of killing has declined. I wouldn't say the rate of displacement has declined because the U.N. so far this year has recorded about 300,000 new people coming into the camps, so we're still seeing a considerable — roughly 30,000 people a month — displacement going on in Darfur. To the degree in which the killing has gone down, to the degree in which displacement continues or not, to the degree in which any of these things are happening or not, to the degree in which the situation in the camps is stable or is deteriorating, this core issue which comes out here, which to me argues more strongly than anything else for continued international engagement, continued public engagement with regard to Darfur and the undiminished need for definitive, strong international action to change the situation on the ground in Darfur, and that is that, as of now, and indeed for the whole entire period of the genocide in Darfur, there has been zero counterweight to the government of Sudan on the ground in Darfur. If the armed forces of Sudan and the Janjaweed have diminished their actual attacks on villages, having destroyed so many and displaced so many people, that does not mean that the situation is definitively stabilized.

Tomorrow, even while we're sitting here, the government in Sudan could be, for whatever reasons, making the decision to reignite that activity. And unlike other situations, similar situations in the world, there's actually no international presence that can protect the people of Darfur, that can protect the humanitarian aid on which those people depend. The thing could be turned on — just like it may have been turned off — at any moment.

The Times ? has written about the peacekeeping situation and the need to get peacekeepers on the ground and the difficult challenge of dealing with the Sudanese government because it is so duplicitous and because the international will has tended to be weak. And I think where we are right now on the UNAMID force, the hybrid peacekeeping force, exemplifies the situations that you've raised concerns about a number of times in the past more clearly and more demanding of action than has been the case before.

You know the history that the first resolution that actually called for peacekeeping force passed in August of '06, Resolution 1706, and was never implemented. I had a long career in U.N. peacekeeping, and before that with the U.S. government in post-crisis diplomacy — this is the first time with the U.N. enacting a peacekeeping force that was simply not implemented because of a host country obstruction and stonewalling . . . You'll remember then that there was a meeting at Addis Ababa of all the international players, this hybrid force concept was developed in part to assuage purported Sudanese concerns, didn't go anywhere. [Sudanese President Omar Bashir] disowned his foreign minister before he got back to Khartoum. We saw a number of months of Sudanese obstruction and gradually growing pressure for sanctions in the Security Council . . .

That led to, apparently, the decision of the Sudanese government to unconditionally accept, as they stated at the time, the peacekeeping force . . .

It was interesting at the time, and I think you flagged it in an editorial in June, which I'm looking at here, that although the Sudanese government announced this, nobody was sort of thrilled about it in the international community or among a lot of foreign affairs analysts, because we had seen before these kind of acceptances that weren't quite real . . . Never did we hear that Omar al-Bashir say that he had unconditionally accepted it. And, in fact, he speaks to domestic audiences, and he spoke to one right at that very same time, and said it's only going to be African troops, and it's not going to be U.N. command and control, and it's going to be an African force with the U.N. carrying bags . . .

So we've seen since the passage of Resolution 1769 in August of this year with the hybrid force, already in October the secretary general reported to the Security Council that the Sudanese government was stonewalling. They said at the time that they were not hearing back, but it was U.N.-speak for stonewalling . . .

In November again the secretary general reported on that in stronger terms, and then of course we saw the head of peacekeeping ? and the envoy ? both report to the security council at the beginning of [December] . . . in extremely strong terms that the Sudanese government was reneging on all of the commitments they've made . . .

Now we have a situation where the government of Sudan is rejecting — not merely stonewalling, but now actually rejecting — the troop-contributing countries list that was sent by the U.N. and the African Union working together . . . They are rejecting the U.N. command and control. Bashir, in his remarks two weeks ago, stressed this would be an African Union force, responsive with green helmets to the African Union with U.N. assistance. And then they're raising all kind of specific things . . . no night operations, the government of Sudan should be able to UNAMID communications whenever to government of Sudan is going to carry out a military operation in Darfur, restricting the types of aircraft that can land, a whole variety of restrictive measures . . .

One of the lessons obviously that the Sudanese can draw from international behavior is that the international community is not serious about 1769, it's not serious about UNAMID success.

Paul Thornton: I just want to get your idea about what adequate pressure would be on Sudan. It just seems like it's been just a lot of talk.

Rossin: Well, the pressure that has been has been U.S. sanctions — limited sanctions, they were increased last year. Otherwise, it's been mostly scattershot diplomacy. There haven't been global sanctions. There haven't been any trade measures taken by anybody else. So really, the concrete pressure has been primarily American pressure . . . Earlier this year we think we saw some Chinese quiet engagement, but the Chinese have backed off since September. What we're told by the people in the U.N. who are pretty visible is in fact the Chinese have receded from any kind of constructive engagement, I think deciding that the Olympic pressure has been handled.

We see several steps. The first step we see is that in fact those countries that voted for this peacekeeping force should actually contribute to this peacekeeping force. African countries have made contributions to ground troops — that's fine. A lot of the African countries' ground troops need to be trained and brought up to U.N. standards. Countries that could do that have not responded to the U.N.'s request.

The problem with getting helicopters

Rossin: The U.N. has said over and over again that if we're going to operate in a place the size of Texas, we've got to have attack helicopters, we've got to have transport helicopters so we can move our forces around . . . No country has come forward with a single helicopter contribution. The U.N. is looking for 24 helicopters; it's not looking for 2,400 helicopters.

Dan Turner: That's something I wanted to ask you about. What is up with that? Why can't we get helicopters in there?

Rossin: We're puzzled about that as well, and so are our European colleagues. It's true — it seems to be true — that there is a shortage of helicopters for peacekeeping missions from countries generally.

Last week I went to talk given by the commander of [the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan], and he was complaining that he doesn't get enough helicopters from ISAF-contributing countries for operations in southern Afghanistan. On the other hand, Germany alone has like 1,600 helicopters . . . The idea that they can't spare two or four operations in Darfur somehow doesn't add up, because they're also apparently not contributing them to Afghanistan although, when you ask them, they'll say operations in Afghanistan are really straining our resources. We're not convinced.

We're not convinced by [U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates] when he said ? we can't do that, we've got requirements in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course we do, but we also have these helicopters. I mean, we see them flying over Washington D.C. every day. I wonder if they're doing traffic reporting on the Beltway or, more likely, flying VIPs around from one place to another . . . I flew VIP helicopters when I working in Kosovo; I would have gladly gone 50 kilometers on the ground and sent the helicopter down to Darfur.

U.S. credibility

Thornton: Do you think U.S. credibility after Iraq has anything to do with the international community's unwillingness to go along with things like U.S. sanctions, actions?

Rossin: I think it does to some extent. I think getting European countries to go along with international sanctions has always been an issue ? They're not where you look for iron will when it comes to international affairs. But on Iran, the United States — in spite of everything — has even after the CIA report has been able to maintain and foster European sanctions movement in the Security Council and on their own sanctions.

I would say that while we do have credibility issues — and, by the way, we have credibility issues that would not make me turn to the United States as the first place, for example, to provide a total of six attack helicopters or transport helicopters — we also have the ability when we focus our diplomacy and our attention at a high level to bring about an international consensus for something like sanctions at a level that has not been tried in Darfur, never mind achieved in Darfur . . .

The third thing we would look for, partially because we think it's just the right thing to do, partially because we think it actually had an effect the last time around, is assertive U.S. leadership — working with Britain, working with France — in particular in the Security Council, to push for multilateral mandatory sanctions. Likely, those sanctions would end up being vetoed by the Chinese or the Russians . . . That's not a reason not to try. When the British were pushing sanctions in the Security Council last May, the fact of the matter is that the Sudanese did seem to respond to that, and the Chinese seemed to respond to that, and we seemed to see some action.

The rattling of sabers can make a difference, and we believe that that's something the United States ought to be mobilizing international pressure for in the Security Council.

China's influence on Sudan

Rossin: Whether or not the United States had lost credibility because of Iraq and all the things that have happened, China would still be under current circumstances the most influential country in Khartoum because of their level of . . . economic investment, because of their military relationship, but above all because they have been in fact the diplomatic protectors of Sudan for a long time in the Security Council. They water down resolutions, then they either abstain or they vote on them, and then they don't follow up when Sudan does not implement them. That's what we're seeing now: There's no Chinese follow-up on this resolution that they will say they were active in making happen.

China had come under pressure from civil society, not particularly governments . . . The Chinese did become helpful because behind the scenes, because of the activities of people ? working on the [Olympic] torch relay — this whole Olympics focus. They had a real vulnerability that they flagged to us. We didn't think we could get leverage on them; they flagged it to us when Mia Farrow and others started talking about the genocide Olympics and they overreacted. Well, we went for the blood . . .

They've got so much influence to change Sudan's behavior, and until they change Sudan's behavior, it wasn't our job as a pressure group to let up on them — what more can we do? . . . We're not dealing with Saddam Hussein here, who could've admitted, could've told the world that he didn't have weapons of mass destruction and probably saved himself a whole lot of grief. These people are more rational than that; these are some sharp people.

Using the International Criminal Court

Turner: Can I ask one thing about the criminal court? You could argue that going after the prosecution of people in the government and protected by the government actually causes the government to dig in more because the last thing they want is international policemen who going to come to arrest them and take them to The Hague. What's you response to that?

Rossin: Well, for a long time, actually, that was our assessment as well. And although one of the ? fundamental principals of the Save Darfur Coalition was justice and accountability for genocide and war crimes, we didn't pursue it very hard because the more immediate objective was to get protection on the ground for people in Darfur, and we didn't want that would stop that.

We've changed our view on that. I went to Khartoum with Bill Richardson in January . . . We met with Bashir, who was very conciliatory. Richardson was tough but conciliatory at the same time, as you do when you work your way forward in an issue. And, a lot of activists and others, and I think the U.S. government and other governments as well, tended to downplay the ICC for that very reason. The fact of the matter is, when the ICC has come up, when the ICC has gone down on the radar screen, if the U.S. government has spoken in favor of the ICC or not ? it hasn't had any discernible impact on Bashir's behavior. I don't think he takes the ICC very seriously right now, and I don't think he's really factoring it in. I think he's just doing what he does regardless of that, and I think until the ICC threat is made real, he's not going to see any interest in being cooperative . . .

The following op-ed by David L. Phillips appeared in Wednesday's Boston Globe.

Sustainable peace in Sudan

The United States is threatening Sudan with more sanctions unless the Khartoum government stops obstructing the deployment of a peacekeeping mission to Darfur. While peacekeepers are desperately needed to provide safety and humanitarian access, more will be required to achieve conditions for sustainable peace. With the Darfur Peace Agreement in tatters and political talks at a standstill, refocusing on a development horizon would not only yield practical benefits to today's humanitarian emergency. It could also positively influence the UN's efforts to bring Darfuri factions together and broker an accord with Khartoum.
more stories like this

Darfuris, UN officials, representatives from donor countries, and humanitarian and post-conflict experts recently got together to discuss new approaches to overcoming the current impasse. They agreed that Darfur's extreme poverty is one of the prime sources of unrest and that a lasting solution will need to address the root causes of the conflict.

Darfuris support the international community's three-pronged strategy - security, relief, and recovery - but insist that focusing on development must not be put on the back burner. Instead of sequencing, they believe activities should be syncopated so they occur simultaneously and are mutually reinforcing.

This might be possible in an ideal world. However, the ongoing spiral of deadly violence makes this multitrack approach nearly impossible. Darfuris are trying to overcome this challenge while remaining steely eyed about their predicament.

The ongoing violence has discouraged many countries from contributing troops. No country wants to pour manpower into a problem with no end in sight.

The international community is unlikely to start the process of planning and investing in post-conflict until after a peace deal has been negotiated and Darfur has been stabilized.

Even if there is an accord and peacekeepers are deployed, it could take years to see an improvement of conditions on the ground.

Donor countries will have to evaluate security before conducting assessment missions. Then the United Nation and World Bank would convene a donor's conference launching a consolidated appeal. Once pledges are made, they will have to be collected. Based on a determination of local capacity, experts will be recruited and rollout plans put in place. Even then, scaling up field operations will proceed only as cash-flow and security permits. Many times before, we have witnessed a cessation of hostilities that is undermined by those who benefit from ongoing conflict.

Right now Darfur has the world's attention. However, another disaster in the Congo is already upon us - and more disasters are not far behind.

To capitalize on the moment and make the most of scarce resources, Darfuris want the United Nations to focus on the transition from relief to development, and engage donor and front-line states in envisioning post-conflict conditions.

Darfuris are exploring ways to bridge the gap between current conditions and the post-conflict phase. They are identifying quick impact projects that can be implemented immediately in relatively stable parts of Darfur less affected by the conflict. Darfuris have concluded that now is the time to define a peace dividend that addresses poverty and hunger, water, energy and infrastructure, health and education.

They make a compelling case for front-loading economic development. It costs $2.6 billion each year to support peacekeepers in Darfur - $300 per Darfuri. Even if the international community comes up with troops and bears this cost, its commitment will not be open-ended. Once the bill for peacekeeping is paid, experience shows that few funds will be available for development activities - a bargain at about $60 per person.

There is also an intangible value to incorporating the development dimension into peace talks for Darfur. Darfuris might believe that peace is possible once they see wells and latrines built, trees planted, and veterinary services being provided to livestock.

Not only could confidence-building measures energize political "consultations" and kick-start real negotiations. If the idea of initiating post-conflict arrangements during an ongoing conflict can help the current catastrophe in Darfur, the approach could also inform future efforts in other seemingly intractable conflicts.

Peace can not be just an abstract notion. It must also yield practical benefits if combatants are going to lay down their arms and agree to turn swords into ploughshares.

The following op-ed by Nat Hentoff appeared in Monday's Washington Times.

Beijing's blood-drenched Olympics

With the Beijing Olympics nearing, China is determined to ensure that unbroken harmony will prevail. The Associated Press, as reported in The Washington Times, reveals that "the Chinese government has created profiles on thousands of foreign journalists coming to report on the Beijing Olympics and is gathering information on thousands more to put into a database. The Politburo extends its pervasive domestic censorship to the world.

This policy statement from "a top official" is in context with China's intelligence services also having been "gathering information on foreign activist groups, aiming to head off protests and other political acts." Four days after the AP report, The Washington Post Foreign Service added that a leading "Chinese security official vowed ... to punish anyone who takes part in a political, religious or ethnic demonstration or protest 'in any form' " during the games.

Present at these closely guarded games will be President Bush. If he sees discordant protesters being dragged away, will he say anything to reporters there who have not been on China's equivalent of our "watch lists," and are allowed to attend? But China is also worried, said a senior Olympics official, about "boycott noise" from groups around the world planning such a protest against what many call the "Genocidal Olympics." Right now, however, along with possible boycott of the games by athletes and prominent international figures who would ordinarily attend, is a campaign directed at the corporate sponsors of the Summer Olympics who have invested tens of millions of dollars in the games. They believe their partnership in China's time of glory will reward them with increasing access to China's continually expanding market. For example, General Electric, owner of NBC, has paid $894 million for the rights to broadcast the Genocidal Olympics.

A New York-based human-rights organization — the nonprofit Dream for Darfur — has been in contact with 19 major corporate sponsors of the Summer Olympics to persuade them to put life-saving pressure on China's leaders to engage in a final effort to end the genocide in Darfur. No country in the world is more vital to the economy of Sudan, the perpetrator of these mass murders and rapes, than China.

Sudan's president, Lt. Gen. Omar Bashir, is smugly confident that he has prevented the combined United Nations and African Union peacekeeping force from entering Sudan. Only the prospect of losing China's huge annual purchase of Sudan's oil as well as its other large-scale investments in the country will get Gen. Bashir to disarm his savage Janjaweed militia and his uniformed soldiers while also grounding his attack helicopters, which keep bombing the black Muslim survivors in Darfur.

Accordingly, Dream for Darfur has asked 19 of China's profit-hungry partners in the summer games to sign a pledge that conditions their continued support for what China calls its "One Dream, One World" Olympics on their telling China to convince Gen. Bashir to stop blocking the U.N. and African Union mission from rescuing the remaining black African Muslims in Darfur. Among the corporations contacted are Coca-Cola, Panasonic, Volkswagen, Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser), the Adidas Group, McDonalds, Staples, Eastman Kodak and Microsoft.

So far, however, Dream for Darfur reports, not one of those corporations has been "willing to acknowledge publicly that ... the ongoing genocide in Darfur is morally unacceptable" for the host of "One World, One Dream." What, then, can be done to shame these investors in the Olympics to undermine China's utterly crucial support of Sudan, the country continuing to conduct the first genocide of the 21st century?

If the sponsors continue their silence, they are going to be internationally targeted, as Dream for Darfur also "is working with other advocacy organizations on organizing protest events at sponsors' headquarters, and a mass consumer write-in campaign, as well as contacting the investment community." Among those working with Dream for Darfur in this campaign are the many groups involved in the Save Darfur coalition, and STAND, a student anti-genocide coalition with more than 700 chapters at schools around the globe.

Actress Mia Farrow, who first unfurled the accusation "Genocide Olympics" and is part of Dream for Darfur, says: "We are appealing to the public ... to put more pressure on these companies (and for) the press do its job ... Business is not as usual when we talk about mass atrocities." So, now everyone who buys the products or services of the corporations can personally help end these atrocities. How many of you care enough about these black African Muslims to stop the further rapes of their women and children and the slaughter of whole families?


The Darfur Daily News is a service of the Save Darfur Coalition.  To subscribe to the Daily News, please email [email protected]. For media inquiries, please contact Ashley Roberts at (202) 478-6181, or [email protected].

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